An Investigation Into the Comparative Impacts of Intensive Agriculture on Environment

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Introduction

Demand for agriculture products is increasing in this age because of high levels of demand for food supply due to the rapid growth of world population (Cohen & Federoff, 1999). In order to meet the increasing demand for agricultural products, agriculture activity has been intensified. Intensive agriculture is practiced in many countries to ensure sufficient food supply for their citizens.

According to Oxford English Dictionary, “intensive” in combination means concentrating on or making much use of something; while “agriculture” means the practice of farming including the rearing of crops and animals. “Intensive agriculture” basically refers to a cultivation system which utilizes high levels of inputs (both labour and capital) relative to land area.

While intensive agriculture (intensive farming) produces corps for the supply of food at lower costs and higher productivity, however, it may brings about harm to the environment. For example, intensive farming may causes land pollution due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.

A secondary research project has been carried out to investigate the comparative the comparative effects of intensive agriculture on sustainability of environment. This report analyses the findings of my research.

This report examines the concerns arise from intensive farming. Section 1 describes the motives of intensive agriculture. High levels of demand for agricultural products encourage the intensification of agricultural activities. Section 2 of this report discusses the benefits of intensive agriculture. Intensification of farming increase yielding of crops to meet the demand of food. Section 3 examines the different effects of intensive farming on the environment. At the end of this report, the different effects of intensive agriculture are compared to show a clear view on the level of impacts of each of the effects arises from agriculture intensification.

Note: Agriculture includes the rearing of crops and livestock. However, the content of this report is concentrated on intensive arable agriculture, which refers to the intensive cultivation of crops. The term “intensive agriculture” throughout this report refers to “intensive arable agriculture” (a crop cultivation system that utilizes high levels of inputs (machinery, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc) to return maximum yields). Agriculture on livestock, therefore, is not discussed in this report.

1.Motives of intensive agriculture

1.1High demand for food due to exponential population growth The rapid population growth of the world increases the demand for food. The world population by 2050 is projected to be 50% larger than at present (Appendix 1) (Cohen & Federoff, 1999). A projected 2.4-fold increase in per head real income and shifts to a more meat oriented dietary will increase the world demand for grain by 2 times (Tilman, Cassman, Matson, Naylor & Polasky, 2002).

1.2Profitability of intensified agriculture activities
World’s real income per capita increases along with the increase of demand for crops, there are good prospects on potential profit of farming. Farmers do whatever possible to maximize the yield of crops with the area of land available, as to maximize the possible profit of agricultural products relative to land.

1.3High demand for Bio-energy
This associates with the rapid population growth and a new form of energy. Crops replace fossil fuel as a new form of energy-generating agent. However, this shift requires huge amount of crops. Competition for agricultural products for food and biomass arises, and is one of the reasons of raising food price. This poses a positive profit-incentive for farmers to increase the yield of agricultural products to supply the needs for bio-fuels.

2.Benefits of intensive agriculture

2.1.Increase crop yield
Intensive agriculture requires less land to produce the same profit than that of an extensive agriculture...
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